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Bhale Ramudu (1956)

ANR and Savitri in the film  

From a small coffee kadai (shop) to a coffee-magnate, it was a phenomenal raise for the Salem born V. L. Narasu. During the construction of Mettur Dam in the early 1930s, he opened a coffee shop at the site and flourished.

From the money he earned, he set up a coffee curing unit at Salem and then progressed to buy coffee estates in Yercaud. He soon launched Narasu’s coffee powder and made it a popular brand all over Madras state (now Tamil Nadu).

Smitten by the success of Modern Theatres in Salem, Narasu ventured into movie business. He purchased Vel Pictures Studio in Guindy, Madras and renamed it as Narasu Studios.

V.L. Narasu produced about a dozen movies, most of them bilinguals in Tamil and Telugu, starting with Rajaguruvu (1954 Thuli Visham in Tamil) starring the leading Tamil hero of the time, K.R. Ramaswamy and Krishnakumari in the lead with Mukkamala and S.V. Rangarao in major roles. Sivaji Ganesan played the anti-hero!

Both versions, directed by A.S.A. Sami had the same star cast. They did not do well at the box office.

Undaunted, Narasu went ahead and bought the remake rights of Bombay Talkies’s huge Hindi hit, Gyan Mukherjee’s Kismet (1943) starring Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti.

He signed the successful Telugu filmmaker Vedantam Raghavaiah to direct the two versions Bhale Ramudu and Premapaasam (Tamil) Except for Savitri and Girija, all the other actors were drawn from the respective languages. ANR played the hero Telugu and Gemini Ganesh in Tamil. Vempati Sadasivabrahmam popularly known as ‘katha’ Sivabrahmam for his talent in story building was entrusted with the job of writing the dialogues and lyrics.

The Vedantam-Vempati duo though followed the original version almost faithfully, improvised certain portions to make the situations more convincing. For example in Kismet the child hero leaves home after his father chides him for a wrong doing.

But in the remake versions to make the scene more dramatic the boy accidentally throws down the child heroine from the steps and, chased by the girl’s angry father, runs away.

Also to add more humour, a comedienne was introduced.

The Story: A connoisseur of arts, Narayanababu built an auditorium and taught dance to his two daughters Rupa and Tara. The auditorium manager Nagabhushanam has two sons – Ramakrishna and Gopal. The mischievous Ramakrishna accidentally throws Rupa from the steps which leaves her lame. In a fit of anger Narayanababu chases the boy and shoots at him. Ramakrishna falls in to a river. Fearing arrest Narayanababu hands over his property and children to Nagabhushanam and lives incognito.

The treacherous Nagabhushanam usurps Narayanababu’s property and leaves his children in penury. Years pass by and Ramakrishna, now a thief in a gentleman’s guise returns from jail. He has an accomplice Appanna. His escapades with Nagabhushanam and his meeting with Rupa lead to an entertaining climax and a happy family reunion.

Vedantam Raghavaiah’s directorial touch came to the fore through a symbolic shot- currency notes raining on Nagabhushanam’s tailed house turning it into palatial bungalow while the two little girl’s rich dwelling loses sheen. He is ably supported by cinematographers M. Mastan and Vedantam Chidanandam, the director’s cousin. As Ramakrishna,

ANR showcased his brilliance in light banter one more time. Rupa is a tragic character. Savitri underplayed it with her usual charm. Girija as Tara, Chalam as her beau Gopal, Gummadi (police inspector), M.C. Raghavan (Ramadasu, the bairagi), the movie’s associate director Gadiraju Kesava Rao (Bansilal Seth), D. Hemalatha (Nagabhushanam’s wife Parvathy), Peketi Sivaram (manager) came up with neat portrayals. Seasoned actors Gowrinatha Sastry and C.S.R played Narayanababu and Nagabhushanam respectively.

Relangi and Seetha as Appanna and Bangari add to the light banter. Relangi’s humming of ‘appanna thanamana vorori Brahmanna’ became a catch word. Baby Saraswati (later day’s popular Tamil comedienne Sachu), Master Sivaram and Babji enacted the child characters of Rupa, Ramakrishna and Gopal.

S. Rajeswara Rao’s melodious score also contributed to the movie’s success. ‘Oho meghamaalaa neelaala meghamaalaa’ (sung by P. Leela twice, once as a solo and as a duet with Ghantasala) was the most popular song from the album besides ‘Muralidhara O Mohanakrishna…’ (P. Leela). Rajeswara Rao took two of Anil Biswas’s tunes from Kismet – ‘Bharatha Veera O Bharatha Veera…(‘Door hatao Ai Duniawalo…’) and the climax song, ‘Intinta Deepavali’ (‘Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali Hai…)

Trivia: Little known fact is that the lyrics -‘Bhayamela O Manasa…’ rendered by P.B. Srinivos (credited as Srinivaschari in the titles), the comedy song, ‘Bangaru Bomma Bale Jorugaa…’ (P.B.S, Jikki). E.V. Saroja’s dance number ‘nanemaina pachhabottu podipinchukova...’ (Jikki), ‘Bharatha Veera…’were penned (without being credited) by Chirravuru Venkatarao, Sadasivabrahmam’s talented assistant.

Bhale Ramudu was Bala’s first film as a solo dancer. She appears as part of a itinerant dance troupe. She later acted as one of the four princesses in Jagadekaveeruni Katha alongside B. Saroja Devi and Jayanthi.

It was an eventful year for Savitri both at the box office and in personal life. Though married to Gemini Ganesh in 1952, the couple made public their wedding at a press conference in 1956 and moved to a rented house in Abhiramapuram, Madras.

The Tamil version, Premapaasam was released on March 23, 1956 and Bhale Ramudu a few weeks later on April 6, 1956. Both versions celebrated hundred days run in many centres and the hundred day celebration for Bhale Ramudu was held at Saraswati Talkies, Vijayawada.

Akkineni Nageswara Rao showcased his brilliance in light banter one more time. Rupa is a tragic character. Savitri underplayed it with her usual charm.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 4:42:25 PM |

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